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French Crullers

I am back from our two-week vacation in Wyoming. As you may have noticed, I took a break from blogging for the most part. It was a necessary break to recharge my creative batteries (and recover from a nasty cold).

While I brought out a donut cookbook I had, I never did get around to making any out there. Today though, with reality knocking (loudly) on my door and the kids moaning about school tomorrow, I decided some crullers would be the perfect treat for all of us. Now I’ve made crullers before, but I felt like I was just short of getting them ‘just right’ the first time. This time I incorporated all that I learned the first time with things I thought of after, and this time, they were about as close to perfect as I could imagine.

I am not a big donut fan; I find them heavy and doughy, and usually not worth the calories consumed for the pleasure (or lack of) eating one. A good cruller though is light and airy and a perfect treat. So much more impressive-looking than your average donut, and because they are made from a simple Pâte à Choux Dough, they are actually much easier to make than a normal raised, yeasted donut.

Recipe from the book Donuts by Elinor Klivans. Adapted slightly by Crafty Farm Girl, January, 2012.

Pâte à Choux Dough

Makes 8 crullers

4 tablespoons (2 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup (4 fluid oz.) water
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 teaspoon vanilla extract
Canola oil for brushing parchment and deep frying
Vanilla-orange glaze (recipe follows)

Place a wire rack on your work surface with parchment, waxed paper or newspaper underneath to catch dripping oil and glaze.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine water, the butter, sugar, and salt and bring to a boil. Stirring to melt the butter. Add the flour all at once and stir viforously with a wooden spoon until the flour is incorporated and the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan in a ball. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. The dough will continue to pull away from the pan sides in a large clump.

Scrape the dough into a large bowl, Using an electric mixer set on medium speed (use the paddle attachment for a stand mixer), beat until the dough forms large clumps, about 1 minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, beatinguntil smoothly blended after each addition. Add the vannilla and beat until smooth.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour about a teaspoon of oil onto the parchment and with a pastry brush, brush the oil all over the parchment. Use more oil if necessary. Cut the oiled parchment into 3 strips and each strip into 3 squares. Place another piece of parchment on the baking sheet and arrange the oiled parchment squares onto the baking sheet.

Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch star tip and full the bag with the dough. Pipe a 3-inch circle of dough onto each of the 8 squares of oiled paper.

Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches into a deep-fryer or deep, heavy saute pan and heat over mediun-high heat until it reads 360 degrees F on a deep-frying thermometer. Place the piped crullers into the freezer while your oil is heating.

Vanilla-Orange Glaze

Makes about 3 cups glaze

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2-1/2 cups (10 oz.) confectioner’s sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon orange extract
5 tablespoons hot water (plus more as needed)

In a bowl, whisk together the melted butter, confectioners sugar, vanilla and orange extracts and water until smooth. Whisk in 1-2 teaspoons more hot water if needed to give the glaze a thin, light, consistency. Use right away.

When the oil has reached 360o F, remove the crullers from the freezer. Turn over one of the dough-topped paper pieces and slide the dough circle into the hot oil. You may need to use a thin spatula to get it started, but then it should gentle fall into the oil. Repeat to add 1 or 2 more dough circles to the oil. Be sure not to overcrowd the pan. The crullers should increase in size. Deep-fry until golden on the first side, about 2 minutes.

Using tongs, a wire skimmer, or a slotted spoon, turn and fry until dark golden on the second side, about 1-1/2 minutes longer. I found that some of the crullers got cracks in them as they were frying, and a few extra brief turns in the oil sealed those up. Transfer to wire rack, fluted side up, to drain. Fry the remaining crullers.

I found that glazing the donuts while they were still pretty warm but not hot worked best. It allowed just the thinnest layer or glaze the remain on the donut, leaving it nice and light. Place the crullers, one at a time, into the glaze, and turn it with a fork to cover completely. Lift it out and allow as much glaze to drop off as you can. Replace on wire rack and allow to cool.

Crullers are best eaten the day you made them.

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French Crullers

My kids have been bugging me lately to make fresh donuts again, since I haven’t made any in months. For a while I was on a roll, making glazed, chocolate & strawberry frosted donuts, Dinner Party Donut Holes, and New Orlean’s Style  Beignets. I really wanted to try and make French crullers. I’m not generally a huge donut fan, but a good cruller is so light that it’s hard to feel too guilty about eating one.

I found two promising recipes on the internet for them. Both were based on a basic pate a choux recipe, but one had orange zest and used shortening rather than butter in it. While generally I would opt for the butter over shortening, the shortening recipe seemed to be rated higher, so I decided to go with that one. The one thing I did take away from the other recipe that did seem important, was to freeze the donuts once they were piped out for 30 minutes. I tried this recipe twice; once without freezing and once with, and the freezing is key to keeping the soft batter from completely losing it’s shape when trying to transfer them into the fryer.

French Crullers

Original recipes from and Adapted and combined by Crafty Farm Girl, September, 2011.

4 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon orange zest
4 tablespoons shortening
1 cup hot water
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons shortening
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Put 4 tablespoons sugar, salt, shortening and orange rind in saucepan with 1 cup hot water. Bring to a boil. Mix in 1 cup of flour. Reduce heat to low and, with a wooden spoon, stir in the flour until the mixture forms a ball, working out any lumps of flour from dough as you go. Remove from heat, and cool slightly.

Beat in one egg at a time, beating each one in thoroughly before adding another. Working the eggs into pate a choux dough is a good arm workout, but doing it by hand, and always with a wooden spoon, is the way I grew up making it. You can transfer the dough to a heavy-duty mixer at this point and work the eggs in, still one at a time, with the beater attachment, working each egg into the batter individually and just until combined.

Using a star tip, press dough through pastry bag, in desired shape, onto a well-greased square of heavy paper. (Note: I used parchment paper, and next time I will try cutting up a brown grocery bag and greasing that, as I think it might release the donut batter into the oil easier than the parchment did.) Place the piped donut batter into the freezer for 30 minutes.

The donut batter in the pastry bag ready to pipe.

pipe into circles on squares of greased heavy paper and freeze for 30 minutes.

While your donuts are in the freezer you can bring your oil up to the proper temperature. Turn paper upside down and let crullers drop into deep, hot fat (375 degrees F – 190 degrees C). Fry until well puffed up and golden brown in color, about 6 to 7 minutes. Drain on unglazed paper. Ice with confectioners’ frosting.

Using a knife, carefully scrape the batter off of the paper and into the hot oil.

Fry until well puffed and golden brown on each side.

When brown on both sides, remove with tongs or a slotted spoon and drain on unglazed paper.

Prepare icing and drizzle on with a spoon or smear on with a knife.

To Make Frosting: Cream 1 1/2 tablespoons shortening and continue creaming while slowly adding sugar. Add cream, salt, and vanilla and mix smooth.

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